The Winning Pitch: How Team Flipped Health Nailed the TVL Investment Competition

By Pitch Academy

We’re excited to announce that on February 5, 2015, our very own Flipped Health won the 2015 Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition!

Read on to find out what set Flipped Health’s pitch apart from the other teams to come out as champions with a $5,000 check…

On the 32nd anniversary of TVLIC, more than 20 startup companies pitched their business plans to a panel of some of the most notable venture capital investors and entrepreneurs in the industry, including partners from Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), Bunker Incubator, and PuraVida Ventures.

So, what set the winning team apart?

They told a story.

It was more than a presentation. It was an engaging story that followed a sequence. The most captivating stories always start off with a carefully crafted beginning – and this story was no exception!

Think you know what your beginning slide should look like? Think again. In order to reel the investors in, the very first slide began with the story of The Broken Vaccine Cold Chain. Contrast that title with the title of the original first slide they began with, The Dry Vaccine Process – does this get you excited about team Flipped Health and their solution?

This is the traditional beginning slide that most teams start off with, where the first words out of a speaker’s mouth are “Hello everyone, we are Team X…” effectively losing the audience, and likely, their chances at winning a chunk of cash.

But Flipped Health isn’t your average team, and neither is the solution they were trying to sell – after an overhaul by yours truly, the first slide in the deck started the story off with a bang:

We coached them to jump in with a relatable anecdote, emphasizing the “what is” to describe the current landscape with a personal example that all of the judges could identify with. After 30 gripping seconds, the speaker emphatically reinforced what the audience was now beginning to understand: “This is a scary and expensive problem.” After setting the baseline of “what is”, they moved on to describe “What could be” – their solution.

AriVax, a drug delivery platform that improves vaccine stability, reduces vaccine wastage, and enables delivery to emerging markets that can’t meet temperature-controlled supply chain (cold chain) requirements.

It was jargon-free.

One of the biggest mistakes made by high-tech teams is acting like they are presenting to other people who are deeply embedded in their respective industry – not investors who probably don’t know the first thing about vaccines and the issues surrounding the cold chain process. The visuals didn’t just get a makeover – the words did, too. Moral of the story? Lose the jargon, NOW.

They connected to the audience with a metaphor.

Here’s where the tried and true STAR method, comes in: drive a big idea home by giving the audience members Something They’ll Always Remember. We came up with a way to communicate the ease of the AriVax solution that shifted the momentum of the pitch and got a laugh from all of the investors… AriVax is easy as Kool-Aid!

Seamless transitions.

It may seem small, but every single speaker clearly announced topic shifts throughout the presentation. This served to make the overall pitch absolutely seamless.

By taking care to verbalize the movement to the next major part of the story, “I will now hand it off to Jason, who will explain the current need in the global market…”, Cheryl ensured that the judges would have no questions about where one topic began and ended.

Confident answers to every question.

With a total of 15-20 questions asked by investors, the presentation was comparable to an investigation. Investors probed into areas like cost breakdown, use case validation, alternative solutions to the one they were proposing, and valuation; at every turn, a team member was prepared with an analytical + emotive answer.

Straightforward slides.

We can’t stress how important it is to have clean, aesthetically appealing slides that communicate the key points – and only the key points. Flipped Health’s slides were strategically placed, easy to follow, and served to enhance the overall message.

All of the above strategies helped Flipped Health come out of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition with the 1st place spot, an automatic entry to Global TVLIC, a 1 year launch package at Austin Technology Incubator, and this giant check:

Congratulations again, Flipped Health!

The above points are some of the key aspects of Flipped Health’s pitch that propelled them to first place. We had a blast getting to coach this stellar team to success, and we hope the points we’ve described here will help you and your team achieve the results you want to see. Remember, it’s all about selling yourself AND your ideas, and you can count on us to keep you up-to-date with the latest communication insights and analysis on modern pitching strategies.

Find out how The Pitch Academy’s coaches can customize our innovative approach to get your ideas sold and your team funded – contact Melissa today!

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Donna Kidwell, MSTC 2007

Dr. Donna Kidwell is a member of the Texas MSTC Class of 2007. We invite you to read on to learn about her experience in the Texas MSTC Program.


Name: Dr. Donna K. Kidwell
Year of MSTC Graduation: 2007
Education Background:
BA History, UT Austin 1992
Doctorate Business Administration, Grenoble Ecole de Management, Grenoble, France, 2012 on the commercialization of science and research out of universities into industry.
Pre-MSTC Job:
Innovation Manager, Keller Williams Realty International
Post-MSTC Job:
Co-founder and President, Webstudent International AS, a Norwegian based startup creating innovative eLearning solutions between universities and industry.
Favorite MSTC Class:
Just one?! Kate Mackie’s Marketing course.
What technology did you work on during the program?
Virtual worlds and virtual world currencies.
How did the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization change your outlook on entrepreneurship and business?
The MSTC gave me systems and processes that I employ daily to develop my business. From learning and validating markets, creating new revenue models to launching international businesses: I use those lessons daily.
What is the most valuable thing you learned in the MSTC program?
There is systemic work behind entrepreneurship. It isn’t magic or happenstance – it’s actual work that you can do: decisions you can make, risks you can analyze, and models you can prove and build.
What advice do you have for prospective MSTC students?
As an MSTC student, you have a unique opportunity to explore areas of interest and open doors. That is much harder to access and create time for later on. In each trimester you have a framework for developing expertise and insight into a technology field you are passionate about. Plunge in and dive deeply!

Building a Better Band-Aid

Originally posted by Andrew Faught on McCombs Today

Every year, nearly 750,000 tendon repair procedures are performed in the United States, most of them without precautions to prevent excessive scar tissue formation, which can cause chronic pain in patients.

John Joyoprayitno, MSTC '13, in suit and tieBut not if John Joyoprayitno, MSTC ’13, has his way. The co-founder and chief operating officer of Austin-based Alafair Biosciences is working to commercialize a natural membrane that could minimize adhesions by acting as an “internal Band-Aid” on surgical wounds.

“You basically cover the wound, let it heal, and then the membrane degrades and resorbs back into the body,” Joyoprayitno says. “It allows the body to do what it’s supposed to do, and it prevents excessive scarring.”

Adhesion-related complications, which can force doctors to re-operate, create a $3.45 billion annual health care burden in the United States, he adds.

Joyoprayitno’s membrane (which hasn’t been given a name yet) was developed at The University of Texas at Austin, which licenses and has part ownership in it. The film, made of naturally occurring sugar molecules, will be submitted for review by the Food and Drug Administration and could be available to doctors in late 2016.

Plans to bring the technology to market for tendon repair took root while Joyoprayitno was a student in the McCombs School of Business’s one-year M.S. in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program, which targets aspiring entrepreneurs who want to launch new ventures based on emerging technologies. The membrane already has been issued two patents, and it’s received four other provisional patents.

Since it was founded in 2011, Alafair has grabbed the notice of state policymakers. In May, Gov. Rick Perry announced that the company was the recipient of a $2 million award from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund(TETF).

The TETF is a $485 million fund created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the governor’s request, and reauthorized in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs, and research experts reviews potential projects and recommends funding allocations to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house.

In the past, too many good ideas were leaving Texas because of a lack of investor savvy, says MSTC director Gary Cadenhead. To date, TETF has allocated more than $250 million in funds to 87 biotech ventures. The impact is palpable: the state reports that in 2009, the biotechnology industry had a $75 billion economic influence in Texas.

The same study found that for every biotechnology job created, 2.3 additional jobs are generated, which fuels the Texas economy.

“It’s one of the really good things that the state of Texas has done — giving money to firms that are in the critical area, when it’s probably a little too early for venture capitalists,” Cadenhead says. “It bridges that gap between what friends and family can put up, before big money comes in.” Continue reading on McCombs Today.

For Joyoprayitno, who once considered enrolling in medical school but instead opted to become an entrepreneur (he’s also co-owner of the Austin Speed Shop, a car restoration business), the TETF grant will allow Alafair to grow and expand its employee base.

The company isn’t the only player in the membrane business. Other products exist, but they’re often made with collagen, which is expensive and has questionable efficacy, Joyoprayitno says. Doctors also have complained that other membranes are difficult to work with because they lack flexibility.

“Our product will have better handling characteristics,” says Joyoprayitno, who notes the Alafair membrane can be changed on demand from a flexible membrane to a mucous-like consistency that causes it to stick to the wound. “It allows the surgeon to place it more accurately.”

For now, all efforts are on successfully commercializing the membrane, which goes well beyond simply having a great idea.

“It takes organization, hard work, and wearing all of the hats,” Joyoprayitno says. “You’ve got to figure out what needs to happen and make it happen. Everybody uses the saying, ‘drinking from a fire hose.’ You really have to be able to handle that.”

Cadenhead, for one, likes Joyoprayitno’s chances for hitting a biotech bonanza: “I think he’s got a winner.”

Two MSTC Teams Place in 2014 UNL Global New Venture Competition

Two MSTC student-led teams placed in the recent 2014 UNL Global New Venture Competition. The business plan competition, hosted on March 20th by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,  was open to college students from around the world.

Rainseed,  led by current MSTC students Jim Nelson, Mike Peterson, and John Willick, won first place, earning them $7,000 and a spot to compete in the 2014 University of Texas Global Venture Labs Investment Competition. GreenWest, which includes MSTC students Eileen Cao, Ben Lee, and Chris Gilbert, placed third, claiming a $1,500 prize.

Two MSTC teams represented McCombs in the 2013 Global Venture Labs Investment Competition last May. One team was first runner-up among the 40 teams competing from around the world, and the other MSTC team won the Wells Fargo Clean Energy Award of $20,000.

Congratulations to both of the MSTC teams represented at the 2014 UNL Global New Venture Competition, and good luck to Rainseed in the 2014 Venture Labs Investment Competition!

First place team, Rainseed, featuring MSTC students Jim Nelson, Mike Peterson, and John Willick. Photo courtesy of the UNL College of Business Facebook page.

First place team, Rainseed, featuring MSTC students Jim Nelson, Mike Peterson, and John Willick. Photo courtesy of the UNL College of Business Facebook page.

Third place team, GreenWest, featuring MSTC students Ben Lee, Eileen Cao, and Chris Gilbert. Photo courtesy of the UNL College of Business Facebook page.

Third place team, GreenWest, featuring MSTC students Ben Lee, Eileen Cao, and Chris Gilbert. Photo courtesy of the UNL College of Business Facebook page.

All of the teams celebrate a successful competition.

All of the teams celebrate a successful competition. Photo courtesy of Chris Gilbert.